THE COTSWOLDS: THE PERFECT WEEKEND ESCAPE
Watermark at the Cotswolds Water Park offers you the chance to swap London for tranquil luxury every weekend
A beautiful holiday home on Summer Lake, imagine that. A wonderland of peace and tranquility where friends and family gather to linger over dinner on the expansive, lakeside terrace. It sounds beyond idyllic, but it’s very much within grasp – Summer Lake is the latest development of luxury lock-up-and-leave lodges by Watermark, set within the Cotswold Water Park.
There are 147 lakes in this part of the Gloucestershire countryside, and Watermark has holiday homes on six of them. Summer Lake, the last of the lakes to be developed, is home to 50 huge, New England-style detached lodges, available to rent for short stays or to buy as a second home (22 remain to be sold).
I took the other half off for a weekend at 20 Summer Lake, a three-storey, five-bedroom property featuring stylish, neutral decor – pepped up with the odd New England blue-and-white stripe – a well-equipped kitchen for keen cooks and contemporary bathrooms. The L-shaped open-plan living space feels as cosy as it does expansive, and three sets of French doors lead you to the roomy terrace (complete with barbecue, dining table and hot tub).
If you’re arriving on a Friday evening after a long working week, you can arrange for dinner to be delivered – just pop it in the oven on arrival. Ours bore the logo of Gusto, a local deli, and was delicious – slow-cooked beef with chilli, truffle mash and winter veg. You can also have groceries delivered so you don’t have to shop en route.
The Cotswolds Water Park lends itself to plenty of activities. Try your hand at clay pigeon shooting (Sean O’Keeffe at Old Downs Pursuits is great), amble about the lakes, play golf, go fishing, head for the spa or dabble in various watersports. Equally, I found lazing about the house, book in one hand, wine in the other, or simply gazing out over the glistening lake, rather wonderful. And if you’re into horses, it’s also conveniently placed for Cheltenham Racecourse (Cheltenham Festival takes place every March).
Be sure to visit the nearby Wild Duck Inn in Ewen one evening. It’s everything you’d expect an old country pub to be with dark wooden beams, creaky floors, a great atmosphere and wonderful food (think lamb with truffle mustard crust and pork belly with cider sauce).
After such a lovely weekend on Summer Lake in the depths of winter, I can hardly bear to imagine how glorious it would be in the sun…
Three nights self-catering at 20 Summer Lake (sleeps nine) starts from £848, call 01285 869 181). Homes for sale are priced from £445,000 to £1.3 million, call 01285 869 031. See watermarkcotswolds.com
Words by Victoria Purcell